AFTER more than 20 years, Britain will be able to export beef products to China after the country lifted its ban on UK beef imports.

The UK-China Beef Protocol was signed last week by farming minister Robert Goodwill and the Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming.

It has been the culmination of several years of site inspections and engagement between UK and Chinese government officials, ever since the Chinese government imposed a ban on UK imports of beef in 1996, during the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), known as mad cow disease.

According to DEFRA, the new deal could be worth an estimated £230m for British producers in the first five years alone.

Farming minister Robert Goodwill described the step as “a major coup for our world-class food and farming industry”, which reflected Briain’s new trading opportunities as the country moved towards leaving the EU.

The announcement comes after China recently approved five British pork plants to export products to China, which will build on a market which is already worth £70m per year.

China is currently the UK’s eighth largest export market for food and drink, with more than £610m worth of products bought by Chinese consumers last year.

NFU livestock board chairman, Richard Findlay, also supported the deal, and said it was important that the government looked to life outside of the EU.

“This is clearly very positive news for British beef producers, who now have the opportunity to supply one of the biggest markets in the world.” he said.

“It is welcome recognition from the Chinese government that British beef is produced to some of the highest production and animal welfare standards in the world.”